Crytocurrency boss ‘released from kidnappers after paying $1m ransom in bitcoin’
The CEO of Exmo Finance has reportedly been released from the custody of kidnappers after paying a ransom of $1million in bitcoins.
Pavel Lerner, a leading analyst and blockchain expert, was allegedly dragged into a black Mercesdes-Benz by men in balaclavas while leaving his offices in Kiev, Ukraine, on Tuesday.
According to Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, he has since been ‘released in a state of shock’, the Financial Times reported.
Mr Gerashchenko said: ‘We have operative information that he paid more than $1 million worth of bitcoins.’
‘This is the first such case in Ukraine linked to bitcoins.’
It was unclear who paid the ransom.
Lerner’s work at EXMO did not involve access to the financial assets of its users, the company said, adding that the platform was operating normally.
The statement added: ‘At the moment, he is safe, and there was no physical harm inflicted on him.
‘Nevertheless, Pavel is currently in a state of major stress, therefore, he will not provide any official comments in the coming days.’
News of the release came as bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies rebounded after two days of losses partly related to regulators toughening rules on digital currencies in an effort to curb excessive speculation.
Many digital currencies surged in value this year.
Strana.ua, a local news website, had earlier reported that six gun-toting men in dark clothing and balaclavas had snatched Lerner and pushed him into a minibus with stolen number plates.
Kiev police have begun a criminal investigation after confirming that a man was kidnapped in the Obolon district of Kiev, but did not reveal the name of the victim.
EXMO has 900,000 users as of December 2017, according to its website.
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